FurnitureConsignment.com Blog

Downsizing Is the Ultimate Test for Planners. You Won’t Fail with FCG

Posted by Jay Frucci on Mon, September 17, 2018 @ 10: 23 AM

 

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We’re a nation of planners, reluctant to leave anything to chance. We start saving for retirement the day we get our first paycheck. We start saving for college when the baby is born. No one seems to want to wait for the obstetrician to announce “it’s a boy!” anymore. Parents-to-be want to know the baby’s gender so they can pick out the paint for the nursery and fill the toy box. 

“Be prepared, not scared,” a wise person once told me. So I understand that planning makes sense. But some things defy planning, no matter how hard you try. Moving, for one. Moving requires a lot of skills, including forward thinking, logistics, attention to detail, and, most of all, cooperation. Not everyone can juggle all that gracefully. 

Even more than moving, downsizing poses a lot of challenges. After all, sorting through years or even decades of accumulated possessions be very emotional. Lifestyle gurus briskly tout the benefits of “decluttering.” That’s easy to advocate until you actually tackle the task of tossing out beloved holiday ornaments or the children’s grade-school art projects. Farewell, papier-mâché dinosaur! 

At FCG, we understand how moving – and especially downsizing – can tax even the most capable planner. Our phone rings daily with calls for help from homeowners in the midst of a furniture crisis. Here’s a sample: 

• “I thought I sold my sectional online, but the buyer never showed up.”
• “My daughter was going to take my bedroom set, but she changed her mind.”
• “The folks who are buying our house said they wanted our dining set, but now they don’t – and they want it gone by the closing. That’s tomorrow!” 
• “We thought our living room furniture was going to fit in our new home, but we just measured and it won’t.”
• “We just found out how much it’ll cost to store our furniture and it isn’t worth the price!”

For planners and non-planners alike, what’s most important is the ability to pivot in those tense moments. When everything falls apart and your blood pressure soars, think of FCG. We’re better than Xanax. We’re calm in a crisis but we’re fast at moving furniture. We’ll help you handle those last-minute unexpected snafus.

Communications 101 for College Freshman: Managing the Parental Money Machine

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sat, September 08, 2018 @ 10: 13 AM

 

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“Ma! I can’t talk right now. I’m broke! Send money! I’ll call you back soon!” 

That was me, circa 1991, yelling into the phone hanging on the wall of my fraternity house. Behind me, my fraternity brothers were howling like a pack of hyenas. That was the tradition back then. When mothers called to check on their boys at college, it was pandemonium in the frat house. 

I could hear my mom faintly, amid the ruckus, protesting. She rarely got me on the phone at college and she was reluctant to let me off the hook. But I had mastered the art of the frat-boy escape. The trick was to sound urgently studious. “No, Ma. Don’t try to call me, I’ll call you. Gotta go to class.”

I didn’t have a cell phone. No one did back in 1991. Like most of the students at the University of Kentucky, I had the Wildcat calling card. It cost fifty cents a minute to call home. Needless to say, my calls were brief and infrequent. Most of the time, I was just trying to siphon some money out of the parental wallet. 

Times have changed, of course. These days, we ship our kids off to college with an arsenal of technology. Thanks to all those advances in tech, communication is cheap and easy now. But some things never change. 

My son is in his fourth week as a college freshman. He has a functioning iPhone, he has a plan that allows unlimited texting, and, unless he has worn his fingers to a nub playing beer pong, he has the capability to tap out a message to the folks back home. After all, we’re the ones funding this venture. 

So far, we haven’t gotten anything more than one or two perfunctory calls from the kid. Zip, nada, nothing. Here’s the long version of my last conversation with him: “Dad, I don’t get cell service in my dorm. I’ll call you. Gotta go to class.”

I recognize that brush-off. After all, I perfected the technique almost thirty years ago. Just like me and my frat brothers, my son is relishing his newfound independence. At least I know I’ll be hearing from him somewhat regularly – when he runs short of money.

A Stubborn Dad, a Willful Son, and a Titanic Battle over … Shoelaces?

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sat, September 01, 2018 @ 11: 44 AM

 

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“I’m not doing it anymore,” I said firmly to my son, Robbie. “You’ll just have to figure it out yourself.”

Outwardly, I was calm and resolved. But inside, I was in turmoil. Robbie is a ten-year-old dynamo with world-class video-gaming skills and amazing dexterity on a waterski. Next week, he’ll start fifth grade, but he still can’t tie his own shoes. 

How did we get into this situation? 

Years of Velcro sneakers enabled him to put off the tedious task of mastering this essential skill. Then, on the few occasions when shoelace-tying was urgently required, it was generally easier and faster for us to do it for him. Time marched on and so did Robbie, in shoes tied by his parents, his brothers, or any handy adult bystander. 

Don’t get me wrong. I tried. I patiently shown him how to do it at least a hundred times, all of which were unsuccessful. So have his brothers, his mother and even his teachers. Each time, he insists, we’re to blame for giving faulty instructions or blocking his view of the action with our hands. 

Robbie came to me earlier this week, sneakers flopping, and asked for a tie. Suddenly, I realized I can’t let the kid go back to school lacking this critical skill. “No,” I said. “But, Dad,” he pleaded, “I can’t. Tie them for me, please! I don’t know how.”

Frustrated, I tried to walk away. Robbie flopped after me noisily. The boy is nothing if not persistent. After all, he’s our third child. With two noisy older brothers and two busy working parents, Robbie has mastered all the tactics of parental manipulation. He had no trouble learning that. 

Robbie argued that my lousy teaching was holding him back in life. I fumed that he wasn’t serious about learning. Our discussion got louder. Finally, I had to walk away. “Figure it out. I believe in you,” I advised him coolly. 

Actually, I was sweating. We had two goals this summer for Robbie: complete the school-required summer reading and learn how to tie his shoes. With only days remaining before the deadline, we’ve accomplished neither. Will I be tying his shoes on his wedding day? I felt my failure as a father acutely. 

I left him to his own devices, literally, and went back to working on the lawn. Twenty minutes later, I saw a red flash out of the corner of my eye. Robbie streaked by, sneakers firmly attached to his feet. I summoned him over and demanded to know who had succumbed to his pleas and tied his laces. “Dad,” he exclaimed triumphantly. “I did it myself! It was easy. I watched a video on YouTube.”

It’s been a long summer. I’ve been outdone by YouTube. I was crushed, but I did manage to get in the last word. “Good,” I managed to choke out. “Now you can GO TO SCHOOL.”

A Furniture Catastrophe: The New Sectional Won’t Fit Through the Door

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sat, August 25, 2018 @ 10: 50 AM

 

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The nation’s economy is on fire, unemployment is low, and the stock market is soaring. Confident consumers are spending money freely on cars, homes and furniture – maybe even a little too freely.

Boom times loosen the purse strings, and that’s when we see a peculiar problem pop up again and again. Shoppers order new furniture that, when delivered, doesn’t fit their homes.

How is that possible? Sometimes, it is simply a failure to measure. Or maybe shoppers get swept up in a fantasy and imagine their rooms are big enough to accommodate, say, the sectional that looks so perfect in the cavernous furniture warehouse. Whatever the reason, it’s a big problem when the delivery truck arrives and the furniture can’t be squeezed into a home.     

Not too long ago, we had a client confess to just that kind of blunder. He’d ordered a very expensive custom wall unit from Ethan Allen. When the delivery crew arrived at his home to install the unit, the enormous pieces wouldn’t fit through the front door, the back door or even through a window.

Sadly, the piece was a non-refundable and non-returnable – even for store credit. With limited options, the client called FCG. We brought the unit to our store in Natick where it sold it in a flash. Our client recovered some money, but not the full purchase price. He learned a hard lesson about buying furniture: measure before you buy.

Our buyers aren’t immune to this strange phenomenon, either. Every few weeks, we encounter an unhappy situation in which furniture bought at one of our three stores won’t fit in a home. Like most furniture stores, FCG has a policy that all sales are final.

To help you avoid this costly mistake, here’s some advice. Before buying, think  carefully. While a large piece may technically fit inside a room, it may not fit through your doors. Check before buying.  

Examine your hallways and corners. Consider any obstacles that may make it difficult to move a piece of furniture through the house such as stair railings, door jambs, and kitchen islands. Long pieces such as sofas need plenty of room to turn corners.

When in doubt, take photos of your entryways, hallways, and stairways. Take measurements of the height and width of your doors, the width of your hallways, the height of your ceilings. Bring your measurements and photos to the furniture store and ask the salesperson to consult with the delivery team – before you buy.

At FCG, we try to prevent instances of no-fit furniture. We offer lots of photos of each item on our website along with dimensions. We are always willing to provide additional photos or measurements. We’ll do what we can to keep you from joining the unfortunate no-fit club, but please remember. In the end, it’s the buyer's responsibility.

An American Furniture Giant Falls to Powerful Economic Forces

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sat, August 18, 2018 @ 12: 19 PM

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While you were snoozing under an umbrella on the beach this summer, Heritage Home Group filed for bankruptcy. This is not just a blip of insignificant business news. HHG is a giant of the nation’s furniture industry with a portfolio full of iconic brands: Henredon, Drexel, Thomasville, and, until recently, Lane.

 How many millions of women over the last century tucked away treasures such as wedding gowns in a hope chest made by Lane? How many Thanksgivings were celebrated around a dining table made by Drexel? How many newlyweds saved diligently to furnish their homes with a bedroom set by Thomasville?

 HHG furnished America, and its collapse is a day of reckoning. Like many other U.S. manufacturers, furniture makers have been hard hit by inexpensive imports from Asia.

 For us at FCG, HHG’s news was particularly painful. Since we started our business in 2005, its brands have been bestsellers in our stores. In fact, we may have sold as much furniture from these iconic brands as the companies’ dealers over the years.

 We’re intimately familiar with these companies’ greatest hits and their biggest flops. Henredon’s Natchez furniture collection has been a perennial favorite of our customers; it may be one of the finest lines of traditional furniture ever made in the U.S. On the other hand, its Asian-influenced Scene Three furniture from the 1980s was a design disaster.

 We cherish certain pieces from the early days of Thomasville and Drexel. Drexel made a mahogany corner dining-room cabinet that is one of my all-time favorites. Thomasville’s Earnest Hemingway Collection, launched a decade ago, was one of the most successful furniture lines in decades, and it still has fans.

 HHG was an important part of our success at FCG, and we were proud to carry its superbly crafted furniture. What will happen to its brands? Some will be sold to other companies; the fate of others are up in the air. Only one thing is certain: HHG’s filing signals the end of an era for the nation’s furniture industry.

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Great Furniture Bargains This Weekend at FCG

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sat, August 11, 2018 @ 09: 57 AM

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Taxes were the spark that ignited the American Revolution. Colonists had wearied of paying a ransom to a king thousands of miles away. So they grabbed their muskets and fought to throw off the yoke of "taxation without representation".

Today, most of us feel just as burdened by taxes. Congress has a miserable 18% approval rating. Like the colonists, you probably think that taxes are too high and our leaders are spending the money recklessly.

So hear ye, hear ye!

Keep your tax money in your wallet this weekend. The State of Massachusetts has declared August 11th and 12th a sales-tax holiday. Any item priced under $2,500 is free from sales tax. 

Thank you, Commonwealth.

At Furniture Consignment Gallery, we are making that sweet deal even sweeter. We're reducing prices 10% of on all furniture, accessories and mattresses.

We've been preparing for this event for weeks. We've traveling all over New England scooping up the most incredible pre-owned furniture. Last week, we scored truckloads of new furniture from an estate in Wayland, Massachusetts - pieces so new they were delivered only a few weeks ago. That house had bought all the top brand names: Arhaus, South Cone, Restoration Hardware, Baker, and Mitchell Gold.

We also raided homes in Wellesley, Marblehead and Duxbury. We plundered high-rises in Boston and grand waterfront homes in Cohasset. Check out our inventory online. I promise, you won't pay a king's ransom for these treasures.

This weekend only, you don't need a musket to win your freedom. The Commonwealth is giving you a two-day pass. You'll save 6.25% on your purchases. Nobody has the deals or the inventory that we have at FCG. So come on in and enjoy the revolution.

In Search of the Perfect Ottoman and Finding Treasures Galore

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sat, August 04, 2018 @ 10: 42 AM

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She strutted into the showroom, a large woman in a billowing sundress and flip-flops. Her flip-flops snapped sharply as she plowed up and down every aisle in the store, pausing every now and then to study a piece of furniture. 

Suddenly, she came to an abrupt halt in front of a massive and magnificent breakfront by Henkel Harris. Ten feet tall and nine feet wide, the eleven-drawer cabinet features a spectacular mirrored back. “I want to see the house that piece of furniture came out of!” she said loudly. 

Next, she paused in front of an ornate secretary desk from the Maggiolini Collection of Italy, a piece so stunning it should probably have its own museum. The desk had dozens of tiny drawers and secret compartments to stash away a lifetime of talismans. “It’s just too beautiful,” she said, shaking her head. 

“I wish I had the home for a piece like that,” she said with a sigh. “But all I really need a little ottoman. Just something to rest my feet on…” 

We showed her every ottoman in the store, but nothing quite fit exactly what she needed. Come back next week, we advised her, because our inventory is constantly changing with new pieces added every day.

High-quality consignment furniture was a new concept for her, she admitted. And clearly she was astounded at the idea that the showroom could be filled with a treasure trove of new pieces within a week or a month. 

After another quick spin around the showroom, she made her way to the exit. “I’ve got to tell my sister,” she said, then added thoughtfully. “Why would anyone shop anywhere else?” 

We agree wholeheartedly. Our new customer will be back soon and we have no doubt that we’ll find her the perfect ottoman for her home.

At FCG We Employ a Pricing Strategy That Works

Posted by Jay Frucci on Mon, July 30, 2018 @ 10: 37 AM

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With an imperial wag of his finger, the customer summoned me over to where he was studying a piece of furniture at our store in Natick. He pointed to a coffee table, then nudged one end of the table, studying me sharply. The piece rocked like a see-saw. 

I reached underneath the piece and turned a little adjuster that was hidden under the table. Instantly, it stabilized. Proud of myself, I glanced up, expecting the man to be pleased but he just looked deflated. 

Just as silently, he peered at the coffee table even more closely and pointed to a small scratch in the wood. I whipped a furniture repair marker out of my back pocket, dabbed a little color on the table and the scratch vanished. 

I gestured at the table to demonstrate my good work, but the customer looked even more frustrated. He pointed to the price on the tag and frowned. That’s when I got the point of all his unspoken complaints about the coffee table. Like a yard sale haggler, he wanted a better price. 

This customer was employing a negotiating tactic that’s pretty common on our showroom floor. Plenty of customers hope to get a better price by calling our attention to tiny flaws and other imperfections on our consignment pieces. 

Here’s what they may not realize: we inspect every single item closely before we accept it for consignment and then we price each item based on condition. Some pieces have small blemishes that are repaired easily. Other pieces have issues that cannot be fixed with a touch-up marker. Either way, FCG’s prices reflect precisely our expert opinion of the value of the piece. 

This isn’t a judgement we make lightly. We discuss our proposed pricing with our consignors before accepting their items. Our valuations are made based on condition, quality of construction, brand and age. 

We process a lot of items each week and some items occasionally get overlooked. In those instances, we'll try to adjust when we can, but otherwise, we're confident our prices are fair and true. Our customers need not play any games when they’ve found a piece of furniture they love. 

No Business as Usual in FCG’s Hometown as We Pause to Honor a Slain Police Officer

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sat, July 21, 2018 @ 09: 56 AM

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In Hanover, MA, hometown of FCG, it’s anything but business as usual this week. In fact, I’m setting aside the usual funny blog fare this week to honor the loss of Sergeant Michael Chesna, who was shot and killed in the line of duty on Sunday. 

Sgt. Chesna, 42, was just finishing his night shift early when he confronted a 20-year-old man who allegedly was throwing rocks early that morning at a home in Weymouth. When Chesna ordered the man to stop, the man hurled a rock at his head, knocking the officer to the ground, according to published reports. The suspect then allegedly took the officer’s gun, shooting and killing Chesna. 

Sgt. Chesna leaves behind a wife and two young children. He was a decorated U.S. Army veteran who had served two tours with the 10th Mountain Division. He was laid to rest this week after a funeral Mass at St. Mary’s of the Sacred Heart in Hanover, my family’s parish. 

About 3,000 police officers from all over New England paid their last respects to Chesna on Thursday in a silent and somber ritual, standing at attention outside the church. My three boys and I rode our bikes over. Just to be there. You could hear nothing but the movement of the officers feet as they shuffled, in formation, in and out of the cathedral. The silence was powerful. Earlier, an endless wave of blue – uniformed police on motorcycles – had ridden down the main street of town. 

In a small way, our family helped honor Sgt. Chesna. My son and his soccer team handed out water bottles to officers the morning of the funeral. We raised the flag in front of our store and placed large blue ribbons along the roadway as did other businesses and members of the community.

Whatever little we all did, it’s not nearly enough. A young woman is a widow. Two children are fatherless. A community is left without a dedicated police officer. Today, the world seems a little sadder.

Image credit: Greg Derr -The Patriot Ledger

FCG Majors in High End, Pre-owned Furniture with a Minor in Psychology

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sun, July 15, 2018 @ 03: 03 PM

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She was on a tear. Barreling through the showroom, she screeched to a halt in front of every chest of drawers, then yanked open and slammed shut every drawer. Clearly, she was in a fury and our poor furniture was taking the brunt of it.

Off to the side stood her teenage son, with tousled hair and a scruffy beard, feigning boredom. He yawned and studied his phone, pointedly ignoring the commotion his mother was making. His nonchalance seemed to infuriate her even more.

Hoping to defuse a potential explosion – and protect the furniture – I ventured over to the woman and discreetly paused nearby, trying to look helpful and sympathetic. She turned, blew her hair out of her eyes, and let out an exasperated sigh.

“He’s moving off campus,” she said. “He needs a dresser for his apartment.” Then, her voice got louder and her tone got sharper, apparently in an attempt to pierce his adolescent armor of phony deafness. “And,” she said threateningly, “he also needs to pick a damn major!”

Then, she hurled the final verbal spear at him. “I’m not paying for an extra year of college!”

He yawned again.

As the father of three boys, one of whom is starting college this fall, I watched the interaction with horror. Suddenly, I feared for my future. Five years of tuition payments?!? Per kid? That wasn’t part of the financial plan! I wanted to pummel the kid with pillows from a nearby couch. His indifference was maddening.

After a few minutes, I relaxed. Of all the choices we make in life, picking a major in college is one of the least consequential. I was an English major at the University of Kentucky. Now, I‘m the proud co-owner with my wife Diana of Furniture Consignment Gallery.

Even FCG has changed majors. Years ago, we majored strictly in traditional furniture. Now, we major in contemporary, mid-century, country and more. And our customers love the diverse selection.

I wanted to offer those tidbits of wisdom to the irate mom, but one look at her told me my comments probably wouldn’t cool her fury. But I did decide to have a talk with my college-bound son that night. Here’s what I’m planning to say: “Pick a major, kiddo, any major. You’ve got four years to study and have a good time – and not a minute more.”